When most men first learn they have oral herpes, their first thought it something on the lines of “Wait! There has to be some mistake!” But some experts estimate that as many as 90 per cent of the population of the world at large has been infected with the “oral” herpesvirus, HSV-1, and most people live with it quite well. This infection is not likely to cause major problems in your life unless you let it get out of control.
Everything about the oral herpesvirus isn’t bad. It gives your immune system “practice” that makes it less likely for you to get the genital herpesvirus, HSV-2. It usually only causes lip blisters, and you can avoid even these if you stop them in time. The three things men need to know about oral herpes symptoms in men are:
- You’ll get a tingling, burning, or itch at the site where herpes is going to break out anywhere from 2 hours to 2 days before you get a blister.
- “Oral” herpes (HSV-1) can infect your genitals after you receive oral sex from an infected partner.
- Love may come and go, but herpes is forever.
Herpes literally “busts out” of the nerves in which it hibernates when something threatens its survival, such as blow to the face, dental work, or the activation of the immune system caused by sunburn. The virus travels along nerves to the nearest exit, and that’s where your immune system will try to destroy it with a blister.
If you stop the multiplication of the virus during the “tingly” stage, you may be able to stop the blister. You can do this with a prescription antiviral cream or pill, or, if you are in a pinch, by holding a piece of ice to the tingly area as long as you can stand it, but at least for 15 minutes. That’s ice made with water, not dry ice, which would do more damage than the virus itself.
How do you recognized “oral” herpes symptoms below the belt? You’re likely to get a blister that looks like a cold sore on your penis, but you are not as likely to have blisters “all over.” Many men only have one outbreak after genital infection, but because this strain of the virus really doesn’t like to hang out in the spinal nerves, the symptoms are likely to be like those of mild oral herpes.
If you want to know the answer to the question “How long does oral herpes last?” the unfortunate answer is “the rest of your life.” However, you will have fewer and fewer outbreaks the more years you have had the disease, and as long as your immune system is not under severe stress, such as can be caused by HIV infection or chemotherapy, you can use cold sore treatment to keep both oral and genital symptoms under control.